The Financial Express

Bangladesh can prefer region-wise representation at UN: Jeffrey Sachs

| Updated: September 18, 2020 19:53:28

Bangladesh can prefer region-wise representation at UN: Jeffrey Sachs

Lack of cooperation in South Asia, including in water-sharing, has dangerous consequences for Bangladesh, says noted development economist Jeffrey Sachs.

Regional cooperation is important because, he argues, most of the technologies and most of the challenges that exist are beyond national borders.

“Regions are extremely important because Bangladesh shares rivers with India – You need to cooperate together. And [you] share ecosystem and renewable energy grid,” Sachs told an international webinar on the UN and multilateralism, organised by North South Universitywith support from the United Nations office in Bangladesh.

He dwelt on the hostilities between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, saying, “Dangers for Bangladesh are obvious if there is no cooperation in South Asia.” He insisted that the South Asian nations should open borders, increase trade and cooperation.

Referring to complicated technological and geopolitical transformation the world is undergoing now, the economist recommended that there should be reform in the United Nations, especially in the Security Council with proportional representation from Asia, which he considers is a big loser.

“Regions are important but they are not represented almost at all in the UN,” he said adding, “Tonga or Vanuatu with 10,000 people and others get one vote. Bangladesh with 170 million or so also get one vote, India with 1.4 billion gets one vote.”

Advocating region-specific representation, Sachs spelled out that “it’s not India or Bangladesh or Pakistan or so forth, rather the South Asia has representation, because after all you’ve 1.8 billion people.”

New Cold War

The economist, a former director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, said it is a dangerous idea to divide the world between the United States and China.

“We cannot suffer another Cold War. There is absolutely no reason in the world to divide the world between China and the United States. It is horrible, stupid, dangerous idea. We should be directing our attention to cooperation and the core I would say regions need to cooperate with each other.”

He said the world needs to stop the pandemic together through public health and vaccine and second, recovery along the line of sustainable development goals and Paris Climate Agreement.

Growing Inequality

Four Americans – Jeff Bejos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk – have accumulated wealth of over 500 billion dollars and it leads to unimaginable wealth at the top, Sachs said.

“This is not the way to run a society. This is absolutely inappropriate in a world where we have so much misery and suffering that we don’t have more effective responses.”

The global economic system has failed to provide a framework in which the poor countries can reliably escape from poverty, he said.

“So, billions or more people are really stuck and facing great hardship even though the world as a whole is filled with wealth.”

Digital Divide

The international system fails to protect environment and countries like Bangladesh are suffering due to this, Sachs said.

“We have multiple, deep, progressive, rapidly expanding environmental crisis including human induced climate change.”

The world is facing technological transformation, which is disruptive in nature, he said.

“It is good to an important extent but very disruptive as it gives rise to cyber warfare, fake news, digital divide and loss of job to automation,” he said adding “So we are in a complicated technological transformation.”

No to US leadership

The economist is of the view that the world doesn’t need US leadership. “We just need US cooperation.”

Strongly criticizing Trump administration, he said, “75 years after founding of the UN, the United States is no leader of the world economy. I regard the United States is probably the number one Rogue Nation in the world right now.”

The US opposes or fails to join more international agreements than any other country in the whole world right now, he said adding, “Trump, Pompeo and others are extreme right-wing nationalists and extremely dangerous for us as the US citizens, and for the world.”

The United States is trying to create a Cold War with China and tells the countries to pick sides, he said adding “It’s the American mentality, I am sorry to say, it is the context we are dealing with. It’s a mess.”

UN Reform

UN reform is needed but there is growing resistance and in most of the cases neighbours don’t support adjacent countries, said the economist.

“I don’t know what Bangladesh’s view is about India to become a permanent member of UNSC, but Pakistan would go completely mad about the idea. The idea of Japan becoming a member is impossible from China’s point of view. So it’s usually the next door neighbor that says no.”



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